Happy New Year, everyone! At the beginning of this New Year, I would like to extend my best regards to you all.
In view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that began in February 2022, as Nembutsu followers who have deeply inscribed in our hearts and minds Shinran Shonin’s message of “May there be peace in the world,” we firmly stand against the military infringement of the other nation’s sovereignty, and also aspire for immediate return of peace in Ukraine.
Over the last year, COVID-19 continues to be a global pandemic. I would like to offer my deepest condolences to those who fell victim to the disease and express my sympathies to those who are undergoing treatment. I would also like to express my respect and sincere gratitude to the doctors, nurses, and other frontline medical professionals who have been engaging in the treatment of infected people, as well as all essential workers who have made it possible for us to continue with our lives.
The pandemic has forced us to learn firsthand that we will continue to be confronted by unexpected situations even in modern times despite technologies both in science and medical fields being highly developed. Sakyamuni Buddha, who passed on the Dharma to us, made clear that there is no life nor entity in this world that lasts forever. This truth, the principle of impermanence, has never changed even in this time and age approximately 2500 years since his time. Another fact that does not change is our inability to accept this truth as it is, and because of this, we continue struggling.
This is the very reason why, regardless of the pandemic, we can rely on the Jodo Shinshu teaching clarified by Shinran Shonin, which guides us as a spiritual foundation that enables us to move forward even when being overwhelmed with difficulties. A gathering at the temple with Amida Buddha as its center provides a great opportunity to receive the Dharma as well as an occasion in which people can support and reassure one another as fellow practicers who follow the same teaching.
I hope you will continue to share the teaching within the greater society through various ways and your temple will or continue to serve as a place where people can gather and find comfort in its activities. I humbly ask for your understanding and cooperation in support of your temples. I would like to conclude my new year’s greeting with my heartfelt appreciation to you all.
January 1, 2023
Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha